CHAPTER 2 THE ALBANIAN PROVINCE (MARZPANAT) IN 428-637

He ruled over his domain from here, his country comprising also Utik, Kabechan and Albania (Aghvank) proper.

The historiographers described Vachagan as a great political dealer and illuminator “When he (the king) came to the village to honour the memory of the saints, he sat in class during the lesson… ordered them (the pupils) to read, and he, sitting there among the pupils, felt proud of his deeds, regarding them great discoveries or gifts from above”31. Vachagan ordered to bring the relics of the saints Gregory the Illuminator, Hripsimeh and Gayaneh to Artsakh from Echmiadzin, then he searched for the tombs of Zakrev (a clergy), Pandalion (a physician) as well as Grigoris** and distributed their relics among his provinces. The country then went through a period of intense development and Vachagan was said to build “as many churches as there are days in a year”, many of which formed the basis for large monastic centres. Each church homed a school or another educational institution. The villages also had their schools. In view of this Gregory the Illuminator, his grandson Grigoris, Mesrop Mashtots and his pupils were Vachagan’s predecessors. For his intense, deep and thorough activity Vachagan got the attributive name of Pious. It was through the church that Vachagan sought to educate his people and considering it the factor which kept the national spirit alive, and the state independent, he tried to strengthen the basis of religion as much as possible. Taking advantage of a weakening in Sassanid authority he re-established a new Armenian stronghold on the Artsakh and Utik territories and on the northern bank of the Kura river. He took an active part in improvement of the administrative system of the country. One of the most important factors in this direction was the constitution. The king was one of the most educated, intelligent and literate political dealers of his time. He was brought up in an atmosphere of Khorenatsi, Koriun, Aghatangeghos, Buzand, absorbing their patriotic spirit. Linked with many ties to the heart of Armenia,the Ararat valley, he was undoubtedly aware of the Shahapivan Canons (443) on the basis of which he elaborated the provisions of the Aghven constitution. Before the assembly was held he applied do the authoritative dealers of his time for advice (for example Matteh the Priest who had brought the relics of Gregory the Illuminator and the virgins’ from Dvin and talked to the Catholicos Hovhan there, the bishop Abraham Mamikoneits (his letter to Vahan is preserved in several manuscripts the bishop Petros Siunetsi and other prominent scholars). The historiographer wrote, “During the reign of King Vachagan, the seculars and the bishops, the nobles and warriors were very discordant. The king wished to hold a meeting (Assembly) in Aghven, which took place on the day 13 of Median month”32. Historiography accepts the date of 488. According to the list of members, mainly secular lords and notables and high priesthood took part in the meeting from Artsakh and Utik and only religious representatives from Kapaghak and Tsri (on the Kura left bank), who were probably Armenians appointed by the king. All the word-forms used in the document are typical Armenian terms reflecting the Armenian reality of the time: nakharar(baron), azgapet (chief tain), nahapet (patriarch), ashkharakan (secular), unashkharik (not secular), shen (village, residence), agarak (farm), vank (monastry), yekeghetsi (church), sak (rate, price), ptugh (fruit), tasnord (decime, one tenth of the material resources, paid as a tax) etc. As B.Ulubabian noted, “This is an Armenian state of life in a region, which surely was forcibly detached from the Motherland, but with resolution and vitality it formed a complete and independent unit, preserving its characteristics and qualities as pure as possible. But after being cut up did it lose the attributes of national entity? Never, and particulary in this environment, because under such cicumstances it established a kingdom and laws and a special way of life and state”34.

In the principles of the constitution we come across the term “khostak”, which according to the German linguist H.Hiubshman is a Parthian term. Supposedly, it was introduced by the Persians to ordain the tributary system35. One of the present day scholars of Baku school, Farida Mamedova, investigating Vachagan’s rules, wrote in her turn that the Aghven rules didn’t testify to the existence of ethnarchy and tribial and racial unity. But on the grounds of today’s political interests this researcher refused to notice the links of those laws to Armenia (S.Yeremian gave an exellent analysis of the document) and added, “History of Albanian Country is about Azerbaijan’s socio-economical and political structures in the V-VIII centuries”. By saying “Azerbaijan” the scholar meant not Atropateni – Azarbaijan proper, but the present Araxes left bank administrative region which was transferred to Azerbaijan by the Kremlin authorities, Arran and the greater part of Aghvank (Albania) proper included. Surely her general strive to minimize and denigrate the Armenian element in Albania do not correspond to historical veracity and manifest the XX century military-political “pan-Turkic” policy. Comparing the rules and laws of Shahapivan (443) with those adopted by Aghven Assembly, we can say that they are similar, the latter deriving from the first one. Both of them forbade polygamy, relative marriages (included those to sister-in-law), arbitrary divorces, lamenting over the deceased, witchcraft, bad conduct of the clergy. S.Yeremian truely observed that Vachagan’s rules were the exact reflection of the Armenian social life. The Constitution defined norms for various substrata of sociely, from priences to peasants and hermits. The peasants as well as those of royal descent were subject to taxation according to their material resources. But only the Sovereign could give a code of laws and the rest were obliged to be obedient. The constitution defined the king as the Supreme judge (not the church) and principles for schools and monastries, but there’s not a word in it concerning the king’s and marzpan’s relations. Perhaps Vachagan concidered him not restrained by the law as a subject to Persian Court. As far as military power is concerned, it is omitted as well, even the number of cavalry provided by the nobles is not mentioned. Probably the king had his own army, which is not once testified by histiriographers, or else he couldn’t have appointed governers in the cities of Tsri and Kapaghak, or suppress the rebellions, or forcibly eliminate sectarianism and lastly the internal troops were relied on to carry the constitutional laws into effect.

Vachagan’s might originated from the Artsakh country who had been the centre of immemorial Arranshahikid dynast’s domain. Though he was the only authorized lord of the eastern provinces, his activity in particular was related to Artsakh. He chose the Artsakh village Giutakan as his residence, not Partav.

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